Chapter 8 - Arrival

ON: Bridge


Word had come in from the bridge that they were nearing system N21, so Evan had made his way from the Ready Room to his chair for their arrival. An image displaying the ship’s course and destination, updated with the most recent scans from stellar cartography, overlaid the top left-hand corner of the main viewscreen, the rest taken up by the swirl of the Hiroshima’s slipstream vortex.


“Bring us out of slipstream a million kilometres from the planet,” he said.


One thing that was silly about USS Pregnant Elephant was that fine-tuning the high speed drives was easily accomplished. Too easy for her tastes, actually, as it made it difficult to assess the abilities of the pilots in her department, but that was a tale for another time. In a breath, she’d already determined the re-entry point, selecting a position above the ecliptic. “Reversion in four; three; two; one…” There was no sense of motion at all, something Steffi said she’d adjusted and corrected, yet feeling (or, more precisely *not feeling*) it was a bit eye-opening. She was nevertheless pleased to one-up her roommate by setting the ship less than ten meters from the ordered position – less than a nacelle’s length from the order, and well within the margin of error. “Standing by on the impulse engines, sir.”


A planet appeared, darker than most class M worlds despite the visible portions of it facing the star at N21’s system. Even the continents were as grey as the dead moon looming above. “Commander Elin, anything on sensors or comms?” Evan asked.


Briar had nothing on comms, but made additional efforts at running some less common frequencies and signal types. Finally she shook her head and responded, “I’m not picking up any communications, but there is planetary debris on sensor sweep, Captain.”


“Helm, move us into high orbit,” Evan said. The debris was to be expected, and any survivors from the Lorrenz’s mightn’t have had an opportunity to set up a beacon on the planet’s surface, so the lack of communications at this distance wasn’t a surprise either, but the Hiroshima would need to get closer.


She tried to make it a Hanmore maneuver, fully opening the impulse throttles, while maximizing the yaw to smartly come to the new course. The ship tried to respond in a prompt, military manner, yet couldn’t muster enough gumption to look like much more than a heavily laden freighter. Nevertheless, after a struggle, it began to gain a bit of momentum at about five percent of impulse, and steadily accelerated, albeit without much panache. “Entering high orbit,” she announced, before bleeding speed and turning to match the planetary rotation. “At least it slows quickly,” she muttered. It wasn’t a compliment.

Briar glanced over at Jenny and momentarily wondered sympathetically if she might feel more fulfilled on a smaller, more agile craft assignment. But those kinds of career decisions had to lead out of the officer’s own volition. She returned her gaze to her own station without comment.


Evan looked over his shoulder to the junior lieutenant manning the Tactical station. “Scan the debris for signs of weapons fire or other energy signatures.”


“Yes sir.” The officer typed in the commands confidently, but after a frustrated moment, all he could offer was, “Readings are inconclusive, sir. It may be the range.”


Evan glanced around at Mez. “Could Science drum up something useful if we brought some of that wreckage aboard for closer inspection?”


Merin was not in the executive officer’s seat. In fact, that seat had never been used since her arrival nor did she intend to use it any time soon. Her preference for standing had led her to one of the back stations that she had changed to a science console. “There’re three debris fields. The first on top of a mountain where the ship split in two. The second is a slope on another mountain that houses the engine section. The last and largest landed in the ruins of a city near the ocean. Looking at it, I think pulling up some of the engine section for a start seems wise. Given the nature of the equipment, cargo bay 3 seems like the best choice.”


“I’ll leave the inspection in your hands,” Evan replied. To Briar, he asked, “Are we picking up any life signs on the planet’s surface?”


Briar was concentrating heavily, already anticipating the need for scans of the planet, but it was clear the task wasn’t being very straightforward. “There’s too much interference to be sure of any life sign readings. The interference may or may not be natural, and seems to be creating a general static scatter. But I can pick out a tiny electro-plasmic energy reading on the south eastern side of the primary landmass.”


Interference? “Commander Mez, assemble an away team and beam down to that location,” Evan said.


“Captain—” Briar interjected. “Transporters can overcome the interference to beam down, but the static may mask a returning signal lock.”


Merin smiled. “Then a shuttle it is and to the main section in the ruined city,” she said calmly as she pulled up a manifest. “I’ll leave the engineering section parts in our chief engineer’s capable hands. Briar, Cielj, Bauer, and ….. Harris from security, Kim from medical and Inzar from engineering will be my team.”


Briar felt her stomach churn with a brief mix of things, aside from her lunch of salad and caramelized nuts… On the one hand, she was pleased Merin was informal enough to refer to her by first name. It wasn’t common, and it warmed something in her, causing her to recall times passed when crews she had been on had become almost like family. But there was also shadow of dread, one she knew she harbored from the nightmare memory which she had shared with Evan, possibly concerning this very system. She stood up, nonetheless, knowing it was as likely as not that some deeply embedded insight might happen upon her which the away team might find useful, much the way she was employed in her last assignment with intel… she signaled for a Bolian manning a support station to come and take her place, “Lt. Xarbe,” she said, and then transitioned to join Merin, folding her hands behind her back.


It suddenly occurred to Evan that this was Mez’s first time leading an away mission for the Hiroshima. Deciding it to be unwise to remark on the event, though, he instead said, “Report in at 20-minute intervals.” He was worried about the interference and what it might mean for the team’s safety. “The Hiroshima will continue scanning the planet’s surface and the rest of the system.”



JP by:


LTJG Genevieve Hanmore


Lt Cmdr Briar Elin, Chief of Operations


Lt. Cmdr. Merin Mez



Capt. Evan Yearling

Commanding Officer

USS Hiroshima-B